Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869–1935). Collected Poems. 1921.

VII. The Three Taverns

9. Tact

OBSERVANT of the way she told

So much of what was true,

No vanity could long withhold

Regard that was her due:

She spared him the familiar guile,

So easily achieved,

That only made a man to smile

And left him undeceived.

Aware that all imagining

Of more than what she meant

Would urge an end of everything,

He stayed; and when he went,

They parted with a merry word

That was to him as light

As any that was ever heard

Upon a starry night.

She smiled a little, knowing well

That he would not remark

That ruins of a day that fell

Around her in the dark:

He saw no ruins anywhere,

Nor fancied there were scars

On anyone who lingered there,

Alone below the stars.